Sudanese RSF leader visits Ethiopia during rare trip abroad

Sudanese RSF leader visits Ethiopia during rare trip abroad
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo was greeted upon arrival in Addis Ababa by Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen. (X: @GeneralDagllo)
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Updated 28 December 2023
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Sudanese RSF leader visits Ethiopia during rare trip abroad

Sudanese RSF leader visits Ethiopia during rare trip abroad
  • Mohamed Hamdan Daglo’s visits to Ethiopia and Uganda come as regional diplomats scramble to broker a meeting between the RSF commander and his rival

NAIROBI: The leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) arrived Thursday in Ethiopia on the second stop of his first trip abroad since war erupted with Sudan’s army in April.
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo’s visits to Ethiopia and Uganda come as regional diplomats scramble to broker a meeting between the RSF commander and his rival, Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.
The warring generals have not met face-to-face since the outbreak of fighting between their forces that has killed over 12,000 people by some conservative estimates, and forced million to flee.
Daglo was greeted upon arrival in Addis Ababa by Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, according to a post on X by the country’s foreign ministry that didn’t provide any further details.


On Wednesday, Daglo visited Uganda and met with President Yoweri Museveni, the RSF leader and Museveni’s office said.
Daglo said he “put forward our vision to engage in negotiations, cease hostilities, and rebuild the Sudanese state based on new, just foundations.”
He is also expected to visit Kenya in coming days, a source close to the RSF told AFP.
“After having visited Uganda and Ethiopia, Hemeti will go to Nairobi in order to try to rally the member states of IGAD to his cause before going to Djibouti to meet General Al-Burhan,” the source said, referring to Daglo by another commonly used name.
IGAD, a bloc representing eight countries in the wider East Africa region, has been trying to bring Al-Burhan and Daglo together since war erupted on April 15.
On Wednesday, Djibouti’s foreign ministry said a meeting between the rivals planned for December 28 had been “postponed to early January 2024 for technical reasons.”
The UN Security Council last week voiced “alarm” at the growing violence in Sudan and the spread of fighting to areas previous considered a haven for those displaced by the conflict.
By the end of November, at least 12,190 people had been killed in the fighting, according to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data project.
The United Nations says more than seven million people have been internally displaced by the war, while another 1.5 million have fled into neighboring countries.
Both sides have been accused of war crimes.

 


Food bound for Gaza rots in the sun as Egypt’s Rafah crossing stays shut

Food bound for Gaza rots in the sun as Egypt’s Rafah crossing stays shut
Updated 24 May 2024
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Food bound for Gaza rots in the sun as Egypt’s Rafah crossing stays shut

Food bound for Gaza rots in the sun as Egypt’s Rafah crossing stays shut
  • Trucks halted since Israel stepped up offensive in Rafah
  • Some supplies stuck for more than two months
  • Health warning issued for some food inside Gaza

AL-ARISH, Egypt: Some of the food supplies waiting to enter the Gaza Strip from Egypt have begun to rot as the Rafah border crossing remains shut to aid deliveries for a third week and people inside the Palestinian enclave face worsening hunger.
Rafah was a main entry point for humanitarian relief as well as some commercial supplies before Israel stepped up its military offensive on the Gazan side of the border on May 6 and took control of the crossing from the Palestinian side.
Egyptian officials and sources say humanitarian operations are at risk from military activity and that Israel needs to hand the crossing back to Palestinians before it starts operating again.
Israel and the United States have called on Egypt, which is also worried about the risk of Palestinians being displaced from Gaza, to allow the border to reopen.
Meanwhile the backlog of aid on the road between the Egyptian side of the crossing and the town of Al-Arish, about 45 km (28 miles) west of Rafah and an arrival point for international aid donations, has been building up.
One truck driver, Mahmoud Hussein, said his goods had been loaded on his vehicle for a month, gradually spoiling in the sun. Some of the foodstuffs are being discarded, others sold of cheap.
“Apples, bananas, chicken and cheese, a lot of things have gone rotten, some stuff has been returned and is being sold for a quarter of its price,” he said, crouching under his truck for shade.
“I’m sorry to say that the onions we’re carrying will at best be eaten by animals because of the worms in them.”
Aid deliveries for Gaza through Rafah began in late October, two weeks after the start of the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The flow of relief has often been slowed by Israeli inspections and military activity inside Gaza and the amount reaching the enclave’s 2.3 million residents has been far below needs, aid officials say.
A global hunger monitor has warned of imminent famine in parts of Gaza.
Rotten eggs
Since May 5, no trucks have crossed through Rafah and very few through the nearby Israeli crossing of Kerem Shalom, according to UN data.
The amount of aid waiting in Egypt’s northern Sinai was now very large, and some had been stuck for more than two months, said Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in the area.
“Some aid packages require a certain temperature ... We coordinate on this with specialists who are highly trained in the storage of food and medical supplies,” he said.
“We hope the border will reopen as soon as possible.”
KSrelief, a Saudi-funded charity, has more than 350 trucks carrying items including food and medical supplies waiting to pass through Rafah, but has had to offload flour because of the risk of it rotting, the group’s supervisor general Abdullah Al Rabeeah said.
“We pack and send but also we have to recheck. It is a big burden,” he told Reuters.
Some food has been sold at cut price on the local market in northern Sinai, leading to the confiscation of stocks of rotten eggs, said local officials from Egypt’s ministry of supply.
Inside Gaza, there have also been scares about the quality of delayed food deliveries that made it in before Rafah closed, or through other crossings.
Palestinian medical and police officials that used to check goods coming into Gaza had been unable to do so during Israel’s offensive, said Ismail Al-Thawabta, director of the Hamas-run Gaza government media office.
“There is a big problem as many of the goods that enter the Gaza Strip are unfit for human use and are unhealthy,” he said.
“Therefore, the health ministry issued the warning statement to raise public awareness that people should examine the goods before eating them or sharing them with their families.” (Reporting by Reuters Cairo bureau, Nidal Al-Mughrabi and Emma Farge Writing by Aidan Lewis Editing by Peter Graff)


Macron to host Arab foreign ministers for Gaza talks

Macron to host Arab foreign ministers for Gaza talks
Updated 24 May 2024
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Macron to host Arab foreign ministers for Gaza talks

Macron to host Arab foreign ministers for Gaza talks
PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will on Friday host the foreign ministers of four key Arab states for talks on the war in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, his office said.
Joined by his own top diplomat Stephane Sejourne, Macron will discuss the situation with Qatar’s Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry, Ayman Safadi of Jordan and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, the Elysee said.

Tens of thousands flee as paramilitaries attack Sudan’s Al-Fashir, activists say

Tens of thousands flee as paramilitaries attack Sudan’s Al-Fashir, activists say
Updated 24 May 2024
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Tens of thousands flee as paramilitaries attack Sudan’s Al-Fashir, activists say

Tens of thousands flee as paramilitaries attack Sudan’s Al-Fashir, activists say
  • RSF troops attacked and looted the vast Abu Shouk camp, killing an unknown number of people and wounding at least 13
  • The army and RSF have blamed each other for the violence

CAIRO: Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in a camp in the Sudanese city of Al-Fashir, activists said, after a raid by Rapid Support Forces paramilitary forces who are fighting to seize the last army stronghold in the western Darfur region.
RSF troops attacked and looted the vast Abu Shouk camp on Wednesday, killing an unknown number of people and wounding at least 13, locals said, more than a year into Sudan’s war.
Around 60 percent of the more than 100,000 inhabitant fled on Thursday, according to the Coordinating Committee for Refugees and Displaced People, which oversees camps in the region. Fighting continued in other parts of Al-Fashir on Friday, locals said.
The RSF and its allies swept through four other Darfur state capitals last year, and were blamed for a campaign of ethnically driven killings against non-Arab groups and other abuses in West Darfur — accusations they have dismissed.
There was no immediate comment from the RSF or the army on the latest clashes in Al-Fashir, a historic center of power. Both have blamed each other for the violence.
The UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide said this week there was a risk of genocide, and allegations that it was already taking place.
Civilians in Al-Fashir and other parts of Darfur were being targeted on the basis of their identity and skin color, Alice Wairimu Nderitu told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
Abu Shouk is home to survivors of the violence in Darfur two decades ago, where janjaweed militias, the precursors to the RSF, fought alongside the Sudanese army and were accused of genocide.
About half a million more people moved into Al-Fashir during the ongoing war that broke out between the army and the RSF in the capital Khartoum in April 2023, as long-simmering tensions over integrating the two forces came to a head.
At least 85 people have died at the only functioning hospital in the south of Al-Fashir since May 10, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
The total number of casualties is much larger as civilians hit by fighting in the north, east, and south of the city have not been able to reach medics, MSF and residents say.
The RSF has accused the army of using human shields as well as carrying out extensive air strikes, including destroying Al-Fashir’s power station.


‘Afraid to walk the streets’: Syria refugees face Lebanon expulsion

‘Afraid to walk the streets’: Syria refugees face Lebanon expulsion
Updated 24 May 2024
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‘Afraid to walk the streets’: Syria refugees face Lebanon expulsion

‘Afraid to walk the streets’: Syria refugees face Lebanon expulsion
  • Standing at her husband’s vegetable stall by the side of the road outside the village of Minyara in Lebanon’s impoverished north, Janhat, 38, said she lives in a state of constant worry

MINYARA: For weeks, refugee Maryam Janhat has been living in fear of deportation as Lebanon cracks down on Syrians, with politicians ramping up calls for them to be forced home.
Refugees from Lebanon’s war-torn neighbor face a dilemma: should they stay and contend with stricter measures and growing anti-Syrian sentiment, or should they return home and risk poverty and repression?
Standing at her husband’s vegetable stall by the side of the road outside the village of Minyara in Lebanon’s impoverished north, Janhat, 38, said she lives in a state of constant worry.
“I am scared when (my husband and children) come to work at the stall. I am afraid they could take my son at any moment... we are afraid to walk the streets,” she said.
Syrians make up about half of Minyara’s 8,000 residents, the municipality says, with most living in tent camps adjacent to vast agricultural fields.
Janhat, who took refuge in the village a decade ago after fleeing violence in the central Syrian province of Homs, feels lucky to be living in a house rather than a flimsy tent.
But she and her family have been unable to renew their residency in Lebanon, and they fear being deported to Syria where she says they have “no house, no work, and no security.”
A few steps away, 70-year-old Ibrahim Mansour is offloading crates of fruit and vegetables from his van to sell.
Syrians “have stalls everywhere, competing with us in every sector,” he said.
“When they leave, the situation will improve a lot.”
Many Lebanese, including politicians, have long pushed for Syrians who have fled 13 years of civil war at home to return, blaming them for exacerbating Lebanon’s woes, including a crushing economic crisis that began in late 2019.
Lebanon says it currently hosts around two million people from Syria — the world’s highest number of refugees per capita — with almost 785,000 registered with the United Nations.
In recent months, politicians have ramped up anti-Syrian rhetoric, with Hassan Nasrallah, who heads the powerful Hezbollah group, urging Beirut to open the seas for migrant boats to reach Europe to pressure for more Western aid.
Earlier this month, the European Union announced $1 billion in aid to Lebanon to help tackle illegal migration, mostly of Syrians to nearby Cyprus, the bloc’s easternmost member.
Lebanon has long heavily relied on Syrians for manual labor, especially in agriculture and construction.
Minyara mayor Antoun Abboud said Syrians were needed in the workforce but that his village cannot accommodate large numbers of refugees or provide them with basic services.
“We are not telling them to leave. We just want to reduce... and organize Syrian presence” in Lebanon, he said.

Lebanese security forces have intensified a crackdown on Syrians without residency permits, shutting down their businesses and forcing them to evacuate their homes.
“Hate campaigns, legal restrictions, and unprecedented measures to make it difficult to obtain residency” are on the rise, said Sahar Mandour, Amnesty International’s Lebanon researcher.
This means most Syrians find themselves without legal residency, she said, adding that “voluntary returns are impossible in these conditions.”
In one of the informal camps near the village, children play in the dirt, while men sit idle, too frightened to leave.
“Everyone is scared,” said herder Hajjem, 37, who declined giving his last name for security concerns.
“Syrians cannot move anymore. Even laborers in the fields are skipping work,” he said, shearing his sheep near the camp, while women around him collected the wool.
He fled to Lebanon illegally eight years ago, at the height of Syria’s war, and cannot return because he says he is wanted by Damascus.
He said he has been too scared to venture outside for work since security forces began to clamp down more forcefully on Syrians.
“I can’t sleep at night because the army or security forces could deport us at any moment,” he said.
His elderly father is also filled with worry.
“If we leave, we will die of hunger. There are no opportunities in our country,” he said.
“It would be better to throw oneself into the sea.”


No sign of attack on Raisi’s helicopter: Iran’s military

No sign of attack on Raisi’s helicopter: Iran’s military
Updated 24 May 2024
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No sign of attack on Raisi’s helicopter: Iran’s military

No sign of attack on Raisi’s helicopter: Iran’s military
  • There was no sign of anything shot at the helicopter and its flight path did not change
  • Raisi was buried in a tomb at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad on Thursday

TEHRAN, Iran: The helicopter carrying Iran’s late President Ebrahim Raisi caught fire soon after it crashed into a mountain and there was no sign it was attacked, state media reported, citing the military’s crash investigators.
The statement from the general staff of the armed forces in charge of investigating the crash was read on state television late Thursday. The first statement on the crash did not lay blame but said more details would come after further investigation.
The crash Sunday killed Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and six other people.
The general staff’s statement said the communications between the control tower and the crew of the helicopter before the crash contained nothing suspicious. It said the last communication of the crashed helicopter was between it and two helicopters accompanying it some 90 seconds before the crash.
There was no sign of anything shot at the helicopter and its flight path did not change, the statement said.
The aging Bell helicopter went down in a foggy, remote mountainous region of Iran’s northwest on Sunday. The crash site was discovered Monday morning with all eight on board dead.
Raisi was buried in a tomb at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad on Thursday.